Episode 748 – Ernst Lieb Axed, VW/Suzuki Drama, Disney Partners with Chevy … Again

October 18th, 2011 at 1:50pm

Runtime: 9:00

In somewhat surprising news, Daimler announced it’s fired the head of Mercedes-Benz USA, Ernst Lieb.  There’s been a lot of drama between Volkswagen and Suzuki lately, and now The Wall Street Journal reports Vee Dub will not sell its 20 percent stake in the Japanese automaker.  Toyota is ready to open its latest plant, located in Blue Springs, Mississippi and home to the 2012 Corolla.  All that and more, plus guest host Sampson Rollomite Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics shares some of his thoughts on America’s strange relationship with hatchbacks.

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Hello again, and welcome to another thrilling installment of Autoline Daily.  It’s Tu-Tu-Tu-Tuesday, the 18th of October, 2011.  Fall is really in the air here in Michigan . . . it’s cold outside!  I’m Sampson Rollomite of . . . HEY!  WHO WROTE THIS?!?!  Change my lower third . . . NOW!  (PAUSE . . . )  That’s better.  As you should know, I’m JIM HALL of 2953 Analytics bringing you the latest and greatest from world of cars.  Now, let’s get started . . . shall we?

In somewhat surprising news, Daimler announced it’s fired the head of Mercedes-Benz USA, Ernst Lieb – a genuine nice guy we’ve interviewed on several occasions. According to the Detroit News, the company didn’t say why it made the move, but in the meantime Herbert Werner, who is the CFO and Vice President of Finance, Controlling and InfoTechnologies, will take over his position until further notice. Lieb had been the head of Mercedes-Benz USA since 2006.

Last week we reported Suzuki was demanding that Volkswagen sell its stake in the company after the Japanese automaker accused it of violating their agreement by not sharing technology. Then, VW accused Suzuki of breaching the contract by signing an engine deal with Fiat. Now the Wall Street Journal reports, despite all the drama, VW WILL NOT sell its stake in Suzuki, which sits at almost 20 percent. Sounds like this spat could drag on for quite a while.

Meanwhile, over in California, the Bowtie is turning to the Magic Kingdom for help.

In an attempt to increase its single-digit slice of the largest car market in America, Chevrolet has hired Disney to enhance the customer experience at dealerships throughout the state by training staff at its Orange County theme park.

The Los Angeles Times reports this is the first part of a three-pronged approach to increase Chevy’s statewide market share.  The brand is also selling more fuel-efficient cars and has targeted 100 California dealerships for renovation in San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles.

We should note that this is at least the third go-around for Chevy and Disney.  Back in the ’90s, the brand’s Total Customer Enthusiasm division also offered a similar type of dealer training from Disney, but at that time it wasn’t focused on just one specific state.

TOYOTA OPENS MISSISSIPPI PLANT (subscription required)
And now for some exciting manufacturing news!  Sorry, I lied.  No manufacturing news is exciting.  But our friends at Ward’s report Toyota is ready to open its latest plant, located in Blue Springs, Mississippi.  This is the company’s 14th North American factory and its 10th in the U.S.  Toyota will start building 2012 Corollas at the facility very soon.  Job one WILL BE sometime this month . . . and they’re running out of days.  The plant was originally supposed to be home to the RAV4 and then the Prius, but the company decided to switch to the Corolla in June of last year after the NUMMI shutdown in Fremont, California.  Luckily the two cars share the same the same manufacturing architecture so changes to the assembly line were relatively minor.   Getting production up and rolling should help ease the company’s inventory issues.

Also on the manufacturing front, Bloomberg reports Porsche is investing about a half a billion Euros – nearly $700 million – to expand its plant in Leipzig, Germany.  It’s adding new body and paint shops to the factory, which is where it builds the Cayenne and the Panamera, its two best-selling models.  The company is taking advantage of lower wages in the area, which is part of the former communist East Germany.  Jawohl!

Would you believe the graphics on this Chevy Camaro were created using one of these – a Sharpie marker? IT’S TRUE! A professional pin-striper named Chris Dunlop created these detailed decorations. According to LSX TV, 10 of the permanent markers were needed to complete design, which took about 54 hours from start to finish. And don’t worry about it getting smudged; a clear coat was used to protect the artwork from the elements. It’s pretty cool isn’t it?

Coming up next, Americans and hatchbacks. What’s the deal? My stance on the issue right after this . . .

The long-awaited hatchback resurgence.  Myth or hoax?

Hatchbacks SHOULD be the car of choice for Americans, yet since the bodystyle’s heyday in the late ‘70s to early ‘80s they have become but a volume footnote in a market dominated by four-door sedans and SUV/crossover things.

Now, whenever a manufacturer introduces a new B- or C-segment car they feel compelled to add the designed-for-Europe hatchback.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love hatchbacks and have owned a string of ‘em going back to a mid-‘70s Cosworth Vega.  And I’m not too proud to deny it!

The first thing that could be considered a modern hatchback was the 1950 Kaiser Traveler.  After Kaiser and Frazer gave up the ghost, America was denied the function of a car that combined the functionality and reconfigurability of a station wagon with the stylish sensibilities of a sedan, until the debut of the 1971 Chevrolet Vega followed in about a year by the Ford Pinto Runabout and then the hatchback version of the Chevy Nova/Pontiac Ventura/Oldsmobile Omega/Buick Apollo in 1973.

A year after that, Volkswagen launched the original Golf in the U.S. as the Rabbit, wonderful car.  But it failed in ways theretofore totally unknown to VW owners.  Mopar had its own entries in the form of the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon.  A favorite car of the Anti Destination League, that last one!

Do you see the pattern here?  Hatchbacks achieved their notoriety as entry-level cars.  Vehicles you aspired to get out of.  And the onslaught of bottom-feeder hatches continued throughout the 1970s with “cars” like the Datsun F10 and B210 from Nissan, the Chevy Chevette … don’t forget the Scooter version.  A rear seat and glovebox door were OPTIONAL on that one.  While there were a few up-market hatchbacks from folks like Saab and the ill-fated Merkur Scorpio, none of these sent the competition running to build their own premium hatches.  Buyers of premium makes didn’t want to be reminded of machines like the original Mazda GLC, a Suzuki Swift or an Oldsmobile Firenza.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Jim, those cars are only remembered by old fahrts like you?” and you’d be right.  Sort of.

But just as the crap hatchbacks were morphing into high-volume sedans (don’t forget the transformation of the Golf/Rabbit into VW’s North American success Jetta), another batch of three- and five-door scumliners began landing on the shores of America.  I’m talking about sheetmetal lash-ups like the 1985 Excel, the Giugiaro-styled hatchback that (nearly) sunk Hyundai in the U.S. Market.  Chrysler tried it again with the hatchback-that-posed-as-sedan Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance.  Even they knew the functional hatchback would play in Peoria.  Please do not forget the astonishingly incompetent Renault Encore that possessed the robustness of a potato chip.  And then there was the second-most inappropriately named car in American history – built by Kia and “marketed” by Ford – the Aspire.

While these machines were being sold there were some good hatchback entries like the original front-drive Dodge Colt/Plymouth Champ twins, the Corolla FX-16 and the subsequent GTI variants of the Golf, but generally, if it had a hatch, it resided in the lower extremities of the U.S. market price ladder.

When Ford launched the original Focus in late 1999, the company made a lot of hoopla as to how the ZX3 three-door was rewriting the definition of a hatchback.  Stylish, sporty, well-equipped, fun-to-drive said to be the keynotes of the ZX3.  But as you can see, when you look around the car parc, the first-generation Focus was really a four-door sedan when it came to sales volume.  Now with the new Focus, Ford is touting its five-door bodystyle as establishing the hatchback as a volume proposition for the newest iteration of Ford’s big-selling small car.  The company tells us the new Focus will accomplish this by being stylish, sporty well-equipped and fun-to-drive.

What was Einstein’s definition of madness?  Oh yes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I like the new Focus five-door a lot and I liked the original ZX2 every bit as much.  But that and fifty cents will buy you a cup of bad coffee.

We DO have hatchbacks in the States, lots of ‘em.  They’re just posing as SUVs and crossovers.  Look at a new Kia Sportage or a Toyota Venza just to name two, and tell me I’m wrong.

And that’s a wrap.  Again, I’m Sampson Rollomite . . . REALLY?  AGAIN?!?!  It wasn’t funny the first time and you’re trying it again!?!?  What did I just say about Einstein?!?!  I’m Jim Hall from 2953 Analytics.  Thank you for tuning in and I’ll catch you the next time I’m around these parts.  BYE!

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95 Comments to “Episode 748 – Ernst Lieb Axed, VW/Suzuki Drama, Disney Partners with Chevy … Again”

  1. Tony Gray Says:

    I’m with you Jim. I had a Cosworth Vega too! Number 0686. Bad tranny, bad electrics…traded it in for a new 79 Z28.

  2. Lex Says:

    Hey Jim Hall,

    Great Show, but you forgot to mention the Mid Seventies Ford Mustang II Hatchback! It came with a 302 V8 that bottomed out over the slightiest bump.

  3. HtG Says:

    Renault LeCar

    ah, I remember her well

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    Let’s see, Vega, Pinto, Chevette, Citation? It’s a miracle that the hatchback survived that past.

  5. tj Martin Says:

    Just what the World needs

    Disney Trained Car Salesmen

    So now …. what ? They can take you on a carpet ride to Magic Mountain , wearing Mickey gloves and Shoes while ripping you blind on the showroom floor ?

    Yeah that sounds like a real marketing solution to me

    Fantasy Con Jobs .


    Hatchbacks – Sadly Jim we’ve has this discussion here before , but thanks for reinforcing my opinions on the issue

    Hatchbacks in the US

    A Great Idea

    That ( almost ) Nobody here wants . Unfortunately !


    Herr Lieb getting the axe

    This one’s got everyone from the WSJ right down to the M-B Forums scratching their heads .

    I’m guessing maybe he got his hands caught in the Cookie Jar ( or worse ) The fact that MBUSA is saying nossing ( to quote Sgt Schultz ) s making everyone suspicious .

    Wonder if we’ll ever hear the full story ?


    VW vs Suzuki – Does anyone really care what those two do ?

  6. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Bought a new ’80 Citation X-11; not bad (for the day). Had a hatchback, four speed and the “Iron Duke” four cylinder; got over 30 mpg highway.

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    Re the Disney-Chevy thing, I just hope they don’t put the sales manager in a Goofy costume!

  8. tj Martin Says:


    The Renault R5 Turbo . Mid Engined . Insane to drive . An absolute hoot to beat on Porsches and Corvettes in .

    And TJ’s favorite drive EVER ! And I do mean EVER . No exceptions !

    Ohhhhhh what a Bad Little Monkey that car was

  9. tj Martin Says:

    # 7

    Sorry Pedro : they already are :o

  10. HtG Says:

    Here’s a quote on Lieb’s departure from MB.

    ‘The sudden ouster of the 56-year-old German executive, a well-regarded executive among Mercedes dealers and within the industry, came as a surprise given Mercedes’s gains in U.S. sales and market share during his tenure.

    Though Daimler declined to provide an explanation for the U.S. management shakeup, people familiar with the matter said Mr. Lieb was removed from his post because of a “personal matter,” not one related to Mercedes’s performance.’

    Is there a German version of Gawker or The Smoking Gun?

  11. Andy S Says:

    Let’s not forget AMC’s Gremlin, Pacer, and Levi’s edition Hornet. And as Lex started, there was a plethora of small specialty hatches — Plymouth Laser and Horizon TC3, Chevy Monza, Camaro (with such poor body build that they needed a power pull down latch), Celica GTS, etc. Let’s not also forget the 1st Honda Accord (circa 1977) was only available as a hatch.

  12. HtG Says:

    Sorry, that was a WSJ quote

  13. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Chevy is already the official vehicle of WDW (Walt Disney World), so they already have an affiliation; couldn’t hurt, as there are many of the Disney faithful that would embrace ‘Mickey’ at the dealership. I can certainly think nothing negative would be apparent to this training.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well when you think about it Disney and car dealers have a lot in common, you go there in a good mood, looking forward to the experience and soon enough you find you’re spending a lot more you ever though you would.

  15. MJB Says:

    Great piece on hatchbacks, Jim.

    I agree, hatchback SHOULD be much bigger in the U.S. market. They’re pack the most economical punch of any vehicle type.

    My folks owned a Renault Encore hatchback and I owned a ’91 Acura Integra hatchback. That car was the best! I could (and did) haul stuff that I would otherwise have needed a pick-up truck to get home. A Dishwasher, eight 6′ high arborvitae bushes in pots all at once, multiple 10′ long 4x4s and 4′X8′ plywood sheets, etc., etc., etc.

    AND it had a convienience feature I have missed ever since getting rid of my hatchback and going to a coupe – a rear window wiper.

    Hatchbacks are the best! And very under-rated.

  16. MJB Says:

    darn typos again… DOH!

  17. Cole Brown Says:

    You forgot about the BMW Gran Turismo and Honda Crosstour

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Lack of trunk privacy and security when you buy a hatch, blame the god-damned car thieves!

  19. tj Martin Says:

    Here it is Folks

    The Brand New Disney Chevrolet All Star Cast .. with ;

    Goofy – As the GM
    Uncle Scrooge – As the Finance Manager
    Sneezy – As the salesman ( draw your own conclusions )
    Roger Rabbit – As the #2 salesman
    Grumpy – As the Service Manager
    Dopey – As the head mechanic
    Sleepy – As the Lot Boy


    @ #14 – As well as feeling left empty handed for the amount of money you just spent .

  20. Lex Says:

    Jim is right! Hatchbacks are all around us in the form of CUV’s. We Americans figure if it’s got a tailgate then it better be waist high off the ground for easy loading and unloading.

    The New Honda Odyssey is right between the Toyota Sienna (True AWD Minivan) and the Toyota Venza (Modern Day Station Wagon). I hope the New Honda CR-V is better than the out going one! What is happening with the Element once the current model ceases production? Maybe John and Peter can get Honda’s Head of Design for North America on AAH to show us what Honda is up to. Hyundai is cranking out updated and stylish vehicles one after the other. I hope the nose of the New Elantra and New Accent will appear on the 2013 Sonata.

    Going back to Hatchback, how about the Eighties and Nineties versions of the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Trans Am. Those were Hatchbacks that were successful sellers!

  21. Ron Paris Says:

    The patter’s getting old Jim. Give it a rest.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    #19 Sorry but I believe Honda’s head of design is being treated by Dr Conrad Murray, of Los Angeles, Calif. #18 Brilliant as always!

  23. HtG Says:

    @20 Ron, I don’t think Jim is able to stop

  24. tj Martin Says:

    Hatchbacks that gave the Genre a Bad Name in the US ;

    1) Exploding Pinto
    2) Chevette
    3) Gremlin
    4) The Pacer
    5)Anything that was built in France *
    6) As well as Yugoslavia
    7) All the Horizon derivatives
    8) RE#7 Especially the GLH models from ( urp ) Shelby

    So lets face it , the Hatchbacks that have been dumped on the American Public over the years have gone a very log way towards besmirching the Genre .

    Blame it ALL on the manufactures I say .

    * The R5 Turbo may have been the most fun car I’ve ever driven , but owning one was a nightmare from Hades .

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    Forbes reports the 10 most owner-loyal car models and 3 of them are Kia models, sorry ’bout that Tj, but America has spoken, and the Kute Korean Krap has a legion of admirers.

  26. tj Martin Says:

    OK …..what did I do to get the Sunglasses Smiley ?

    Anyone got a clue ?

  27. HtG Says:

    @23 Come git some, tj! At the GC in Lime Rock Park this summer, an R5 got the top award in the ‘Fun’ class.

    @24 When I saw the new Rios at the autoshow, I was very impressed with their design. TTAC’s Jack Beruth writes that they great cars, too.

  28. tj Martin Says:


    No accounting for taste in the US pedro . Hardly none at all

    Hell , just look at the tons of garbage Wal Mart sells each and every day , or the tons of Junk Fast Food thats consumed here and then tell me the Forbes article should surprise anyone

    Americans like Junk ! As long as they’re told its something wonderful . Reality TV being a Prime ( time ) example

  29. HtG Says:

    Foh Kn Tr pos!!!!!

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG he called it “Good, Cheap (to buy) and Fast” That is something you don’t see everyday.

  31. Brett Says:

    Funny, but I seem to recall that Ford had to rejigger their production on the Fiesta here in North America because they were selling way more hatches than sedans.

    I am seeing a gratifying number of new Ford Focus 5-doors here in Daytona Beach.

    Jim’s right about SUV/Crossovers being the same damned door/hatch configuration as as the cars that people don’t buy. Perhaps it isn’t that people don’t like hatchbacks, they don’t like the hatchbacks they’re being offered in the market.

    If I had any damned money I’d buy either a Fiesta hatch, a Focus 5-door hatch, or a Mitsubishi Sportback GTS. Don’t know which because I’m not going to torment myself test driving vehicles I can’t afford to buy.

  32. tj Martin Says:


    Seriously .


    An R5 Turbo loaner

    Rocky Mt National Park & Trailridge Road

    24 hours of automotive bliss and an ear to ear grin for two weeks after .

    Final tally ;
    1 Corvette
    3 Porsche 911′s
    1 Porsche 914 /6
    1 Pontiac FireChicken

    Just glad I never bought one though .

  33. tj Martin Says:

    KIA Rio

    When I saw the Ad the first thing that came to mind was Top Gear UK’s Star in a Reasonably Priced Car routine .

    To say the least had a good laugh over it . Especially with KIA trying to promote the thing as some kind of serious performance car .

  34. dcars Says:

    The Chevy/Ford buying experience has changed dramatically. I’m in the market for a new car (RIP Honda Accord)when walking thru the sales C/F floor I was free to look as I pleased. After a while, a friendly person would walk over and ask if I needed help and a sales person would soon find their way over to me. Next was tour through the car and they never mentioned the price.
    I visited a Nissan dealership and it was a bit different, within minutes the salesman was putting money on the hood. My what a difference a couple years and vastly improved products can make on these companies.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG from yesterday re the Dolphins vs Jets, I told you so!! and next week they got Tebow coming in with the Broncos and most of America will be rooting for him to do well, I predict 0-6 by next Sunday on the way to a 0-16 season.

  36. LS ford Says:

    Three words…


  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That was a long list of hatchbacks, but you missed a few. Here’s a list of hatchbacks I’ve owned, including some much-maligned ones that weren’t as bad as their reputations:

    GTi VR6
    Malibu Maxx
    MINI Cooper

    My parents had an ’88 Dodge Lancer, not a bad car for the time.

    Also, I’ve had wagons that are about the same as a hatchback, Sunbird and Jetta.

    I liked the looks of the first generation Focus 3-door and 5-door, but I guess no one else did. I might have bought one when I got my Malibu Maxx, except the Focus was a little “rough around the edges” by then.

    The Malibu Maxx was a good car, but didn’t sell well in the truck-centric US market. I replaced it with the Prius for the gas mileage, but the Maxx was a good, utilitarian car.

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    I can’t believe people still buy from dealers lots and not the internet, once you know exactly what car you want and how much it should go for, you should let your fingers do the walking and the talking. No pressure and little stress, there is always stress involved in spending all that money.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    What do you predict for the Indy Colts? They are 0-5 so far.

  40. pedro fernandez Says:

    They’ll win a few at least they got an NFL QB unlike the Dolphins who got dumb and dumber at the QB position and don’t want to spend the dough for one. I guess still reeling from the Parcells rape incident.

  41. HtG Says:

    the big question is, who will get to draft Andrew Luck? The other big question is, how will I make it through Thanksgiving football with my Detroit born and raised Brother in Law.

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems Americans like the SUV/CUV things which are hatchbacks, only with worse handling and gas mileage because of the extra height.

    Toyota and Honda were unwilling to make regular Camry and Accord wagons or hatches, and felt compelled to make the Venza and Crosstour taller, with the resulting loss of gas mileage. That didn’t seem to be such a good idea, at least with the Crosstour, because it’s ugly.

  43. GPL Says:

    @25 tj, I think the “8″ followed by “)” yields the sunglass-smiley-face

    @19 Lex, don’t forget the 79-93 Mustang. Speaking of Ford hatches, the Escort was probably the highest total volume domestic hatch.

  44. MJB Says:


    Let’s leave God out of this..

    But, that lack of trunk/cargo privacy was due to bad design by the manufacture. All they every had to do was provide a hard cargo cover. My ’91 Integra had one. You never saw what was in my cargo area.

  45. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well, rejoice in his joy!! The poor fans around here have had nothing to rejoice since Marino retired.

  46. pedro fernandez Says:

    #41 they make carrying big items easier than a regular wagon! So unless you know someone with a pick up, you eventually need to carry an item to large for a low roof line wagon.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe Ernst Lieb got the axe because of all my comments about the good stuff MB makes, but won’t sell in the U.S.

    No, not really. We’ll probably hear why he was fired in due time, or at least rumors.

  48. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    You think you got it bad ?

    KC Chiefs

    Nuff said

    How long till College ( KU ) basketball ?

    Rock Chalk JayHawk ( but not their FB program )

  49. tj Martin Says:

    The REAL problem with Hatchbacks in the US is again what the manufactures Are and Are Not willing to sell here

    As Kt said they won’t bring wagons , and premium hatchbacks ( M-B B Class etc ) and the ones they do ( Audi A3 ) are nothing but tarted up versions of the same crap the Dealership down the road ( in this case VW ) has for 2/3′s the price

    Maybe if they’d quit assuming we’re all stupid ( which most US consumers are ) and bring over the good stuff , maybe hatches n wagons would sell better here

    But as long is its the dreck they’re dumping on us , the situation will never change

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #44 …but since that happens about once every 5 years for most of us, we can pay a few bucks to have the item delivered, rent a truck, or whatever.

    The reason given for their vehicle choice by most SUV drivers I know is that they can block the forward view of people in cars. No, they don’t put it that way. They like to “see over the traffic” or some such thing.

  51. tj Martin Says:

    # 45

    I’ll bet its cause his paws were into something ( read into that whatever you’d like ) they shouldn’t of been in .

    If he were Ill or needing more family time , there’d be no reason for the Silent treatment from MBUSA

    Boy though reading all the articles today , Lieb sure was a well loved guy . Hmmn .

  52. tj Martin Says:


    NOoooooo Kit .

    I bought one because at 6’4″ and age over 50 its SOooooo much easier to slide over into one , than to Sit Down into a Hatch etc

    As well as the room to stretch and move around while on a long distance trip .

    Size does matter when it comes to cars Kit for other reasons than Ego or Domination .

  53. HtG Says:

    @50 I just watched a ~50 year old get into his Porsche convertible, and it waren’t no pantie dropper. He tipped back so he leaned on the seat and door jamb, then slithered down and in. Two words for you guys, yoga and pilates.

  54. HtG Says:

    tj, you working your phones on this Lieb thing? It’s killing me and I can’t get up.

  55. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, I’ve known people who have gotten SUV’s, and minivan, for the same reason you did, easier to get into, etc.

  56. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Yoga aint a gonna help no 6’4″ body shove into a car thats designed for a 5’7″ frame . And all those gymnastics he performed , well lets see him do that when he’s injured or has a bad back like I do .

    My ‘Last Straw ” was in January when I sprained both wrists and bruised the heck out myself falling on Black Ice . Getting in and out of the MINI was truly a ‘ Religious ‘ experience for over a month , seeing ” the Light ” every time I did so ( no offense intended MJB )

    Pilates , have a talk with your Osteopath about that one . They don’t like it so very much

    Tai Chi – Now that I can get into

    Nope . Some Old Goat wants to pretend he’s still in his 20′s is fine by me HtG . As for myself I wouldn’t go back to my 20′s if you paid me , and a little comfort is now a welcome thing in Mid Life .


    As far a Lieb I’ve got my Ears out there as good as they can , but nary a word about the situation , other than the frustration everyone is feeling over WTH he was let go .

    Rumors are rife , but they’re just rumors and none with any reasonable credibility .

  57. Kit Gerhart Says:

    So far, at 65, I’m still driving cars, except for my “occasional use” ’89 van that I use mainly for model airplane flying. I’ll see if I feel the need for a truck when I get a little older. I’m only 5’10″, so that might make a difference, and I’m lucky in having no major back or joint problems.

  58. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    placed a call to my ‘ little birdie ‘ at MBUSA

    just called back

    response ? ” Can’t talk about that TJ ”

    Walk away and let it go HtG. This one’s way beneath the surface and out of it seems everyone’s reach

  59. HtG Says:

    @54 yep on Yoga. The orthopedic surgeons around here do a good business in Yoga warriors.

    But anyway, I do see a trend in higher hip points in cars. We’re getting older and more decrepit. Popping in and out of the Miata is a trick, sometimes compounded by stage fright if someone is observing(usually, females stare at the car).

  60. HtG Says:

    @56 ‘way beneath the surface’ You think Herr Lieb has a dungeon, or something?

  61. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit

    Consider yourself very lucky . Bad backs ( injured three times in my teens and 20′s ) only get worse with time . Or at the very least as in my case , never really get better .

  62. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    LoL ! Taking things a little too Literally there mien freund ?


    Or maybe not ?????

    Hmmmmn . Dungeon hey ? Lets see . German , Successful and wealthy business man . Middle aged . Kind of an odd looking duck . Married , but who knows ? A little of the Marquis perhaps ? Hmmmmn

  63. tj Martin Says:


    Should of seen me squeeze into that Silver Streak last month . Now that was embarrassing . Even just having the Mrs watch .

    Shudder !

  64. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    Solved your new car dilemma

    Have the wife and kids chip in for one of these ;


    Or not ! I’d go Not ! ;-)

  65. tj Martin Says:

    So Much for all the Freaking Optimism ALD was spouting off last week about Car Sales ;


    TJ gets vindicated ………… AGAIN !

    ( sorry for the egotistical outburst , but as an artist I don need my positive Kudos fix from time to time )

  66. tj Martin Says:

    D%hhh st>.. ing t^psssst

  67. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I heard that Herr Lieb got caught stealing pens from the office supply cabinet.

  68. HtG Says:

    66 Perhaps he even went so far as to laugh.

  69. cwolf Says:

    I’m surprises no one has said a word about Lieb’s replacement! Werner is a bean counter and should never hold such a position! IMO,there goes any progress that has been made under Lieb. Making Werner head of MBUSA is like making DeLorenzo head of the UAW!

  70. cwolf Says:

    Come to think about it, the vast majority of new Focus I see are hatchbacks. It would make a neat little wagon! hint hint.

  71. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    # 67 Good point . I should of made it myself but ……. oh well …… you did so its fine .

    Looking into Herr Werner’s past it might be calling him a Bean Counter is a compliment though .

    Hope the snipe doesn’t muck things up at MBUSA although some of the more credible scuttlebutt says he’s only in for the interim till they pull in a full time replacement .

    But again thats just reasonably credible rumor I’m spouting here .


    So what though ! No ones commenting on the Industry Leaders take on the future of Auto Sales ? ( link on post 63)

    After all the hype and hoopla we were dealt last week ?

    Really ?



    @HtG you seem to be having an Erroneous Error filled day ,there . Thumbs still swollen from a weekend of merriment ?


  72. tj Martin Says:


    Here’s an interesting thought

    I wonder if Herr Werner is any relation to ” Das Bot ” Herbert Werner ? Hmmmn

    The plot thickens ?

  73. HtG Says:

    As of 3 pm, WSJ reports Lieb is still working at MB.

    “Mr. Lieb remains at the company, though in an unspecified role, the company said.”

    I do wish Ben’s software allowed for edits.

  74. tj Martin Says:

    Y’all wanna read some SERIOUS B.S. ?

    THIS is serious B.S.


    Remind me somebody . What Country am I living in at the moment ? Not the US ! Certainly not the US I grew up to Love and Defend never mind have the Mrs working for !!!

    The US I grew up in would be telling these damn Canadians Fifteen Different ways to shove it , with aid available if needed

    This Story is BEYOND Belief

    So again WTH am I ?

  75. cwolf Says:

    How about the market today,as well! Todays gains made up for yesterdays losses. Yet here’s my itch: The days gains were reported to be simply upon a report in a newspaper that France and Germany agreed to allocate an additioal 2Trillion EURO’s. Based upon a news report? Why not wait for the facts straight from the source,thus,avoiding all the daily/weekly rubberbanding? Now,will they be asking the Feds for help? I hope not. No sense buying the meat from a dead horse! IMO,Greece is going to “belly up” in the end because that is the direction the market is dictating. And some wonder why people are protesting WS! However, some market analysis predict Japan is the place to invest in coming next year. Knowing they aren’t in that great of shape or will be for a while,I will ignor the advice. Auto sales will be flat till spring is my guess.

  76. HtG Says:

    blame the algorithms, cwolf. Traders make money out of volatility. Or lose it.

  77. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    Hang on to yer hat thar pardner

    This here Stock Market thing is gonna be one rough ride for at least the next four years . Calling it a Roller Coaster once its all said and done will be an understatement of immeasurable magnitude

    More like the worst ass kicking bucking Brahma Bull any man women or childs ever set eyes upon

    Take my word for it as well , we’ve not even come close to the worst this is gonna get .

    Auto Sales ? Hah !!! Auto Sales will be the least of our concerns

  78. tj Martin Says:

    And back to the Pipeline issue ( post 72 )

    No wonder the folks in Kansas were going ballistic over this .

    Some panty waste foreign company coming down here trying to steal the land right out from under them !

    And that poor Widow in Texas . SOB’s putting pressure on her the day after her husband dies of Alzheimer

    Tell me the Oil Companies don’t own us Lock Stock and Barrel right down to the property you live on .

    This song says it all ;


  79. HtG Says:

    @76 I see why people are angry, tj. But doesn’t the article say that it is through a Nebraska subsidiary that the eminent domain effort is being pursued? I think the way of the world is that energy companies ride roughshod over people. Look around the world to places like Nigeria or Equador, or even to Pennsylvania. See the movie, Gasland, if you haven’t already. Energy will be brought to market.

  80. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There are a bunch of existing pipelines crossing the U.S.-Canadian border. See:


    I suspect U.S. companies were involved in most, or all of these, and eminent domain was used in Canada to build them. These things go both ways.

    As far as Keystone XL, I don’t yet know if I’m for it or against it, but I’m kind of following the story.

  81. pedro fernandez Says:

    #62 Thanks, Even if I hit the lotto, I also long for something I don’t need to crouch to get into or climb out of, an xB would fill the bill nicely, #63 perhaps someone smarter than me can explain why there are people and media that insist on painting a rosy picture for the economy when you read other articles from people that really know the business inside out and have dire predictions. like the aforementioned TTAC story. What are they trying to accomplish, are they secret cheerleaders for the party in power or what gives?

  82. pedro fernandez Says:

    #72 is this the “change” people voted for in 2008?

  83. cwolf Says:

    tj: I agree the worst has yet to come,so what are your plans to manage your and the ms. potfolio?

  84. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro, #80
    These things work both ways. U.S. companies walk all over citizens and governments of other countries all over the world, and in a lot more serious ways than this transcanada thing. I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s the way it is.

    One thing sure is that the ’08 election didn’t have anything to do with transcanada and the pipeline. It’s possible that, good or bad, this administration might stop the pipeline, but you can be damned sure the other guys wouldn’t have.

  85. Dale Leonard-Lakewood,Oh Says:

    Thanks Jim. Today I was really feeling down,until that is,I tuned into Autoline and got my spirits totally lifted. Jim Hall is always good for a great laugh. Hopefully he will be doing more segments when John is away.

  86. WL Simpson Says:

    Why a pipeline? Why not a state of the art refinery? It takes a certain amount of refining just to make that goo transportable.
    Where’s the money ????

  87. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I ‘d thought the same thing, but I’d guess Texas and Oklahoma are the closest places to the source of the oil that they will tolerate having the smelly refinery in their “back yard.” I think the branch of the pipeline to southern Illinois is to load oil on ships in the Mississippi River to go somewhere, maybe China.

  88. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I was thinking the same thing, but I’d guess that the places the pipeline goes are the closest to the source of the oil that anyone wants the refineries in their “back yard.”

  89. tj Martin Says:


    All thats happening is not his fault ( much of it left overs from the GWB era )

    But in truth he’s not done much to fix/ stop the problems either

    Reality being the congress ( both sides ) are too wrapped up in Party Agendas to give a Rats Behind what America may need

    And since Reagan , the Corporations have had Far Too Much Power as well as the Shareholders Running the Show for their own short term benefit . With GB senior and GWB only making the situation worse .

    Will I vote again for Obama . Nope . Will I vote Republican ? Not a chance . Will i vote at all this next presidential election ? Probably not .

    The Political Scene right now has me on Burn Out mode because of the above facts .

    And this TransCanada thing has me majorly PO’d !!!

    Especially the widow in Texas story . TC showing up at her door threatening her the day after her husband died of Alzheimer .

    TC better be awfully glad I’m not her neighbor , cause had I caught wind of that BS there’d be some Canadians being shipped back to the Homeland in stretchers and wheel chairs , consequences be damned !

    I don’t much countenance bullying grieving widows .

  90. HtG Says:

    If you vote in MO this time, you have a lot of power. MO will likely be a close vote, and its electors added to the national total one way or the other. Why toss your power? I live in NY which will certainly go NY, so it doesn’t much matter what I do.

  91. HtG Says:

    …NY will certainly go D….

  92. Kit Gerhart Says:

    TransCanada may bully widows, but at least they don’t send their mercenary soldiers around the world killing people like American companies such as Xe Services LLC, formerly Blackwater.

    No, I don’t like what TransCanada is doing either.

  93. tj Martin Says:


    Can’t much help what contractors like Blackwater AKA Xe Services do as thats not in my backyard . Who by the way you can thank GWB and his cronies for .

    This TransCanada thing is ( in my backyard therefore if confronted personally with it ( neighbor etc ) I can do something about it . And may yet do with the Widows situation financially

    I’m choosing my battles carefully lately Kit based on what I CAN have an effect on , ignoring those out of my reach


    @ HtG

    So I chose to vote . Who the _____ do I vote for ? Republicans with their heads so far in the Sand reality hasn’t swept by them in decades ? Or the Democrats who’s heads are so far in the Clouds they wouldn’t know reality if it slapped them in the Face ?

    Independents ? Yeah right . Who ?

    Its ” Fools to the Left of Me Jokers to the Right ” and I’m not about to vote for either one . So i do believe i’ll abstain next year and save myself the aggravation of deciding which Fool or Joker to Vote against .

    The ONLY thing that might get me out is if a Tea Party member gets the R nomination , in which case I’ll have to go vote AGAINST the Abject Idiot ( Tea Party candidate )

  94. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG !!!!

    Here’s the answer ( about Herr Lieb’s sudden exit )


    TJ scores again !!! He DID have his grubby Kraut hands in the Cookie Jar

  95. Skye Says:

    Keep bringing Jimm Hall back! Best Autoline Daily host. Period.